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The Rise of Dumb Phones

Updated: Jan 8

Dumb phones offer the essential features we expect from our handheld devices - the ability to call and text - but you won’t find yourself browsing Instagram or checking TikTok on them.

Nokia 'dumb phone'

As consumers, particularly young ones, become more clued-up on the downsides of smartphone use - with negative impacts on everything from mental health to relationships - interest in alternative ‘dumb phones’ is growing.

This comes at a time when, according to Tubefilter, just over half of Gen Z (those born during the late 1990s and early 2000s) and Millennials (1981 to 1996) often daydream about life without social media, with a whopping 60 percent of Gen Zers wanting to return to a pre-social media era, according to Harris Poll research.

These stats may seem surprising, but when you consider the impact social media has had on younger generations (wrecking sleep, polarising politics, and encouraging negative self-image, to name just a few things) it’s not wildly odd that the prospect of ditching smartphones for something simpler is an attractive proposition.

Both generations are known for their love of nostalgia. Curiously, a third of Gen Zers feel nostalgic for the nineties, even though most never lived in that era. Witness the extraordinary rise in sales of cassettes courtesy of Gen Z and vinyl records.

Remember in lockdown when everyone started making sourdough and taking up yoga? The move to reduce our smartphone use is arguably a natural extension of this - in line with a greater focus on our physical and mental wellbeing. Add to that, Gen Z are famously a ‘sober curious’ generation, with many opting for a soft drink instead of a pint of beer or glass of wine. We’re seeing intentionality and a focus on health playing a larger and larger role, and dumb phones could play a positive role in this societal shift.

And given Gen Z’s struggles with anxiety and mental health, a more nuanced, intentional approach to technology is arguably no bad thing. Another important factor for younger generations is that dumb phones are cheap to buy, and have relatively low (or zero) monthly commitments. And let's not forget, owning and using a dumb phone doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your smartphone - and even if you do, you can always check Instagram when you get back to your laptop.

Whilst tech giants continue to push more and more smart tech, many consumers are opting to go the other way, back to analogue devices that aren’t specifically designed to be as addictive as possible.


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